"The driving force for me with my work and life and everything else, is just to upkeep a creative practice. I think it nurtures the soul."
"One thing that I do try to focus on is to consider other senses"
Full interview below.
Step into the world of visionary product designer Calum Bettison in our August cover star video interview. Discover his design philosophy, creative process, and inspirations as he takes you through his latest groundbreaking projects. Dive into the mind of a masterful designer who's reshaping how we experience products.
Calum recalls his childhood with his father, who supported his interests by giving him hand tools to design and build things with clay and wood. He describes this as the starting point of his journey of becoming a product designer and discusses how he pursued a career within the design industry to becoming self employed.
Calum shares his day to day routine and opens up about the struggles of balancing the production of work. He says that only a third of his time is spent actually producing and the rest managing the admin side of the business. Although this comes with being self employed, it is an important part of maintaining the business.
“I always try to bring a character to whatever the product is. I like to think of my pieces that I design as having a personality, almost like character traits.”
Fluted Lounge Table
Fluted Lounge Table's distinctive upper surface communicates beyond aesthetics. With a focus on tactility, hand-routed ‘flutes’ encourage physical interaction with the piece and together with the soft black finish bring a multi-sensory richness to the design.
The matt black finish contains pure soot, the pigment traditionally used by artists in Indian ink. It has been developed specifically for the Fluted range - the finish is soft and delicate yet holds an intense and captivating depth.
The table is built from solid Scottish Sycamore and is constructed using robust traditional joinery techniques.
Creative processes is what drives Calum. A humans ability to start from nothing and to imagine something, followed through with time and energy until the outcome. He explains that in modern society everything is immediately available to have and believes the creative ethos in people is diminishing.
The inspiration behind Calum’s creative process varies between commissioned projects his own original projects. He explains his explorative way of investigating processes and experimenting, which often informs the concept of the product. “One thing that I do try to focus on is to consider other senses. Not necessarily just visuals.” He aims to create pieces of furniture which one can interact with more than just the eyes.
Ribbon pendant lamp
Ribbon is an exploratory project. It emerged when a friend and I were looking at how the materials we use in our own practices could be combined. The material we developed uses organic cotton as a substrate and very fine ‘ribbons’ of a type of wood called spalted beech. Because the material is so thin, it lets light through. When we discovered this, the obvious idea was to explore lighting design. The light that is emitted through the material has a soft, warm glow thanks to the natural hues of the wood. It’s perfect for cosy or moody interior spaces.
The very first product Calum worked on was for a friend. “I think that’s probably the best combo you can ask for really, working with your friends on creative projects”.
Calum sheds light on his concerns of the disposable nature of furniture and how in the last few years it has become more apparent with the climate crisis. He opts for a local sawmill and makes use of local resources. He expresses that products designed with more longevity are becoming popular and with that trajectory he hopes people in his profession will become more appreciated. Being a conscious creator is tough due to the systems that exist for production and consumption.
Woven Bench 01
An example of modern craft, Woven Bench 01 combines contemporary style and traditional artistry.
Simple shapes provide a clean backdrop for the hand-woven cord, with the paper bringing an approachable charm to the design. To celebrate this humble material, careful consideration has been paid to proportion; an unconventionally thick seat clearly presents the material to the user.
The hand-turned cylindrical oak legs are buffed to a fine finish to emphasise the grain’s natural depth and lustre. Sitting alongside the delicate wood surface, the rhythmic and textural weave of the paper draws attention to the contrasting qualities of both materials.
Calum is currently working on growing a collection of his branded products which will revolve around furniture and lighting as well as smaller homewares. Follow his Instagram @calum.bettison to stay updated on new releases.